Tuesday, February 14, 2006

For Cheney, A Moment Not Unlike Nixon or Clinton

Vice President Cheney made a mistake Saturday when he "peppered" Republican fund-raiser Harry Whittington, during a quail hunt on a ranch in Corpus Christi, Texas.

But he made a bigger mistake by not admitting the mistake, and instead allowing the news to come via the ranch's owner, Katharine Armstrong, who called the local daily newspaper, the Caller-Times. And that mistake was compounded by the ridiculous press conference held yesterday -- two days after the fact -- by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

Q And you're satisfied with the way --

McCLELLAN: You can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job.

Q Well, it's not really a hindsight issue here. I mean, the Vice President made a decision about how the public should be notified that basically is at odds with the standard practice of how the President's own press operation and this White House notifies the public; isn't that right?

McCLELLAN: Well, again, this was handled by the Vice President's Office. The Vice President thought that Mrs. Armstrong should be the first one to give that information out, since she was an eyewitness.

Q But let's just be clear here. The Vice President of the United States accidentally shoots a man and he feels that it's appropriate for a ranch owner who witnessed this to tell the local Corpus Christi newspaper, and not the White House press corps at large, or notify the public in a national way?

McCLELLAN: Well, I think we all know that once it is made public, then it's going to be news and all of you all are going to be seeking that information.


There are various theories you can throw out as to why Cheney took this unusual and unprecedented way to have the unusual (though not unprecedented) shooting be revealed.

One theory was thrown out to McClellan:

Q Was there any consideration, to your knowledge, that the information should be delayed in order to avoid it becoming red meat on the Sunday talk shows on Sunday?

McCLELLAN: Not that I know of. In fact, she reached out to the local paper that morning -- I don't know what time, but I was told she reached out that morning.

In truth, Armstrong reached the Corpus Christi newspaper at 11:30 a.m. Central time, or after the Sunday talk shows. The story was filed on-line at 2:30 p.m. Central time, and picked up by the wire services an hour later.

But I would venture that Cheney wasn't in cahoots with Armstrong about when to call the local newspaper.

I'd throw out the theory that Cheney, who some consider to be the most secretive vice president ever, was hoping that no one would find out about the shooting.

Remember, there was no press corps at the ranch. The fellow hunters were key Republican supporters. If Armstrong hadn't called the local newspaper, how would the media find out?

My thinking is that Cheney didn't want to face the embarrassment of having the incident be repeated over and over on news, talk and late-night shows (which ultimately occurred). Furthermore, I think it shows how little regard Cheney has for the White House press corps. Cheney, like his boss, doesn't like press conferences, preferring to speak to partisan crowds. Cheney has requested loyalty oaths from speech attendees -- he's not eager to speak before a vigorous press corps.


Americans are a forgiving people.

President Nixon may have prevented the course of events that led to his impeachment if he had come clean early with the American people, and admitted that people in his inner circle had committed wrongdoing. The Washington Post may not have allowed Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to continue digging -- assuming the Watergate burglars and a couple of superiors had met justice.

President Clinton may not have been impeached if he had come clean with the American people. Instead of saying, "I did not have sex with that woman," Clinton could have admitted his tryst. Yes, he would have faced some sparring from the Republican Party (and perhaps from his own), but the American people would have quickly forgiven him, and impeachment would likely not have gained traction in Congress.

Cheney will not face a serious call of resignation or impeachment for either of his acts -- the shooting, or the failure to communicate with the press. But he should do the right thing and make a short statement, acknowledging the obvious, apologizing for quickly failing to disclose the shooting, and asking for forgiveness.

It's the right thing to do. And who knows -- maybe Cheney's popularity will rise from a hard-to-believe 19%.


Anonymous trinity said...

ROTFLMAO! Great parody, David! ;)

I know it must be a parody, because I can't believe you could possibly be serious! lol

12:50 PM  
Anonymous mexicoxpat said...

maybe we have a big "hide" of big information...
so it gets all of the attention...and no one looks at what else happened on the scene of the shooting....anyone else hurt? Any dogs die in this accident? who all was there? Was there drinking involved?

12:55 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Why is it a parody, Trinity?

You have to admit that Cheney's action -- not contacting the press -- is very strange. And the failure to contact the press may have become a bigger story than the original shooting.

David isn't calling for impeachment or resignation, obviously. But Cheney (or at worst, his press secretary) should say something, don't you think?

Has his office even made a formal statement -- other than to bicker about whether Cheney had the right hunting licenses?

1:00 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

No one is focusing on the conflict between what the White House said between Sunday and Monday that essentially the accident resulted from Whittington's carelessness, and the official reports from the investigators coming out today indicating it was actually Cheney's recklessness that caused the accident.
I find merit in JABBS version of events since it jells with this "Plan B" attempt to buttress Cheney's role as much as possible.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous OTTMANN said...

OMG, that's all you libs ever care about... making Cheney or Bush "apologize."

Forget it, everyone knows he feels bad enough about the accident.
Knock off the emotional crapola! Clinton never apologized for anything he did
to this day, including allowing Bin Laden to do 9/11 after he let him go twice
when he could had him for free. Where is the "apology" for that?
Where is Al Gore's apology for dragging the country through 39 days of whining about a lost election? What if Bush had had that month of transition? Democrat's have much more to "apologize" for than any republican, that's for
damn sure!

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Angelina's Evil Twin said...

It's been reported that Harry Whittington has suffered a HEART ATTACK as a result of one of the pellets from Cheney's gun.

What happens if Whittington DIES? Isnt't that ACCIDENTAL MANSLAUGHTER.

2:14 PM  

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